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Title IX & Student Conduct Code Blog

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#MeTOOK12 Helps Combat Sexual Wrongdoing in Schools

Students from kindergarten to 12th grade are encouraged to stand up against sexual harassment and abuse, thanks to a new hashtag started by the Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS) nonprofit organization. While much attention has recently focused on sexual harassment and assault in workplaces and on college campuses, sexual wrongdoing against younger children has received less of the spotlight, and SSAIS is working to change that.

Sexual Misconduct in Our Schools

SSAIS was founded by two parents in Seattle whose high school-aged daughter reported she was raped during an overnight school trip. Another eighth-grade girl in Alabama reported a classmate assaulted her in a school bathroom—after a teacher encouraged her to “lure” the boy into a trap so he could get caught in the act. The girl stated no one came to “catch” him.

These are only two examples of the many incidents of sexual harassment and assault in our children’s schools. From sexually related bullying to unwanted touchings, such sexual misconduct can take place in halls, in classrooms, on playgrounds, on field trips, in parking lots, in bathrooms or locker rooms, and almost anywhere else on school campuses or trips. One study reports that 21 percent of middle school students surveyed were touched sexually without consent at school—and this is likely a low number, because many students are too afraid or ashamed to report what happened.

While a loud and bold #MeToo movement has risen to prominence in recent months—with many survivors of sexual misconduct unashamedly telling their stories online—younger victims often remain quiet. They may fear that adults won’t believe them, may feel embarrassed about what happened or discussing topics of a sexual nature, or may even blame themselves. One 15-year-old girl in Michigan was expelled after reporting a sexual assault in the school parking lot, so it’s no surprise that kids are scared to speak up. #MeTooK12 aims to change that— and provide acceptance and motivation for survivors to stand up.

Taking Legal Action

Holding schools fully responsible for allowing sexual misconduct is important for many reasons. First, students and their families can find a sense of justice after such a traumatic event. In addition, knowing that they could face possible liability—and bad press—for sexual misconduct, schools may take greater measures and implement stronger policies to prevent sexual misconduct in the first place. Finally, making K-12 sexual harassment and assault a more widely discussed and accepted topic may empower more victims to speak up if they witness or suffer sexual misconduct in schools.

While a few students and their parents have taken legal action by filing complaints with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), many more remain silent. SSAIS founders state they believe it will take a large number of young victims coming forward and working to hold schools accountable to enact real change. They started #MeTooK12 to help encourage more families to just that.

Title IX gives students of all ages at federally funded institutions the freedom from sexual harassment and assault. Taking legal action under Title IX, however, can prove complicated—but that shouldn’t deter you. If your child has told you about sexual misconduct at school, you need the help of an experienced Title IX attorney as soon as possible.

Call a New Haven, Connecticut, Title IX and Sexual Assault Attorney

The right attorney can help you properly file a federal complaint against the school and will guide you through every stage of the case, seeking the relief that you and your child deserve. These cases can represent far more than individual compensation—they constitute a movement to keep our kids safe from sexual harm at school.

#MeTooK12 encourages children of all ages to speak up and report sexual violations at school. Parents, guidance counselors, coaches, teachers, and more can all help protect our children—and the first step is to seek the right legal guidance. Call Duffy Law at (203) 946-2000 or write us online for a confidential consultation today.

Felice Duffy

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Attorney At Duffy Law

Attorney Felice Duffy served as an Assistant United States Attorney for ten years after beginning her legal career at two prestigious firms (one in CT and one in NY) and then clerking for two federal judges. A life-long Title IX advocate, she brought a legal action under the then-new Title IX statute against UCONN while an undergraduate to compel the creation of its women’s varsity soccer program. She went on to become a first-team Division I All-American, was selected to be on the first U.S. National Women’s Team, and spent 10 years as Head Coach of the Yale women's soccer team. Attorney Duffy has Ph.D. in Education/Sports Psychology and has spoken to, and conducted trainings for, over 50 schools and organizations on a wide range of topics involving athletics, the law, and social justice. You can reach Felice at (203) 946-2000.